Gruen Precision Vintage

Gruen Precision Hand Wind dress watch.

I picked this up at a local antique store on March 22, 2010.  Above is the untouched watch, with a wonderful linen pattern dial.  It is a 17 jewel Swiss made hand wind movement, cased in base metal is 10 micron gold plate.  The crystal is in excellent condition, with very minor scratches, barely worth buffing out.  Temporarily, I had it on a Fossil leather band, but I purchased a Hadley Roma genuine lizard strap for it.

So far, the watch is keeping excellent time.  Opening the back did not reveal any time stamp or indication it was made, but my bet is no later than the mid 60’s, so this is watch is probably 50 years old.  Pretty amazing to see a 50 year old piece of machinery still working like it was designed to do.  The watch is 35mm in diameter with 18mm lugs.

After 5 days of ownership, this watch is quickly becoming one of my favorites.  Although, the difference between my most and least liked watch is very small.  I like the convenience of a hand wind watch.  Just wind it once a day and you can just pick it up and go when you need it.  The lack of date is a little bit of a bummer for practicality, but it actually adds to the dressiness of this watch.  It looses about 10 seconds a day, which is just fine for a 50 year old watch.  The movement is actually pretty quiet, which a jeweled watch should be.  No metal against metal loud ticking of a pin lever watch.

My guess is that watch originally came on a strap very close to what I have on it now.  The 35mm diameter is not too small as well and the fact it is hand wind makes it a very thin watch at 10mm, with about a third of that being the crystal height. Speaking of the crystal, it was nearly flawless when I picked it up, and just a quick polish made it look like new.  I am guessing it is not the original crystal, since the winding crown has considerable wear, but the crystal was in very good shape.  This was a well taken care of watch and probably was pretty expensive when it was new.

An interesting fact about this watch it that is uses Radium for the luminous materials.  The dial is marked Ra Swiss Ra which means it has radium markers.  This further reinforces the fact the crystal is not original (no darkening over the makers) and the watch is from no later than the early 60’s.  The still used Radium in the 50’s, but stopped in the mid 60’s.  There is still some glow left, but not much.  Luckily, unless you are eating it, radium is actually pretty safe to use in watches.  Only a tiny amount is used, and the crystal absorbs most of it.

I honestly don’t know how I come across these random finds, but that little bit of serendipity really makes my day.

Features:
Case: 35mm,  base metal is 10 micron gold plate, waterproof.
Back: Stainless Steel, screw on, Marked Gruen Precision, Waterproof, Shockproof, Anti-Magnetic, no serial number.
Crystal:  Acrylic, minimally domed.
Movement: Hand wind, 17Jewels.  Caliber 510SS.  18000 BPH.
Complications: None
Other: Genuine lizard band, Luminous Hands and Markers.  Approximately 50 years old.

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